New parents may require parental leave when a child is born or adopted. Most employees in Australia are eligible for unpaid parental leave if they have completed at least 12 months of continuous service with their employer.
Since 1 January 2011, most workers are eligible for paid parental leave when a child is born or adopted, which is fully funded by the Australian Government. They may also have additional entitlements to paid parental leave under a company policy, an agreement with their employer or an award.
Employers should not make assumptions about the leave options that a parent of a new child may take.
Under the Sex Discrimination Act employers must treat workers who are returning from parental leave fairly. A woman who returns to work after maternity leave has the right to return to the same job she had before going on leave. If the position no longer exists, she has the right to another job which is as close as possible in pay and responsibilities to the one she held before.
It is against the law for employers to directly discriminate against a person because of his or her family responsibilities.